The latest round of funding from the United Way Waterloo Region Communities (UWWRC) will see $691,000 distributed to 47 area agencies and programs, including Woolwich Community Services.
Money from the United Way’s general community fund is now being distributed every three months to keep up with community needs, a response to the extraordinary times brought on by the pandemic.
“We got together with a bunch of different funders at the beginning of the pandemic and started to recognize that there was a lot of different things that needed to get attention. We moved to a quarterly funding model, which is what you’re seeing is a report of the money that went out, it went into the community at the beginning of July,” said Joan Fisk, CEO of UWWRC.
“We see some problems. We see some things that we might not have seen before, family violence, or other issues with our immigrants, a bunch of different things that we kind of sort of knew were there. We support the counselling agencies tremendously because they really need the support, but we’ve also seen families that have been falling apart through this. And we at United Way believe that our job is to raise money to help support these programs, that in turn support our community,”
The funding was welcomed at WCS as it deals with local issues, including those brought on by the pandemic.
“The funding that we received from the United Way is directed to community outreach and support. We deploy intentional strategies to identify isolated individuals and link them to appropriate services, supports and organizations. We’ve seen an increase in the intensity of the needs of the people we support,” said Leigh-Anne Quinn, community engagement coordinator for Woolwich Community Services.
“We want people to feel connected and supported by their community. By having a consistent point of contact for support. We want participants to have improved understanding of the needs and the work across services beyond Woolwich Community Services. We want our participants to have increased social connections. And we also want to reduce social isolation, which has been further amplified through the COVID 19 pandemic,” she added.
“We still packed food hampers for people and ran all of our food programs so that people were still receiving adequate food – we’ve kept open the entire time, we’ve just shifted how we do things.”
Fisk said she has seen the pandemic shine a light at some of the problems that maybe got swept under the rug before. It has been a time where they learned to adapt to address the changing needs of the community as we start to recover.
“You do have a Mennonite population who are very independent but didn’t want to vaccinate, and that causes a series of difficulties. We think we’re through it now. Woolwich particularly had some children’s programs that needed some support, and we’ve been able to support that. We’ve had things like the Big Sisters/Big Brothers that was really needing support. We’ve had people from the sexual assault centre reach out. In other times, the Wilmot Family Resource Centre got some support. Woolwich Community Services got support,” said Fisk.
“I could go on and on and tell you all the things that we did, but we’re dedicated to helping people during a time of crisis. And that’s what we’re in – we’re not out of it. And this is why, to build a strong future for our region, United Way is a really important organization; without United Way, it would be a significant difference. Last year we had $4.6 million of support go into our community.”